Eugene Cho

The Church must not forget our own. Remember. Pray. #FreeKennethBae

UPDATE: November 3 marks one full year since Kenneth Bae has been incarcerated in North Korea.

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This post will likely only make sense for people of faith and for followers of Christ. For others, it might just come across as ludicrous…because seriously, who would go to the ends of the earth? Who would risk their safety to pursue their convictions in Christ?

[Please also read this post explaining why Kenneth's mother recently went to North Korea to visit her son.]

I’m writing to you about a man named Kenneth Bae. He is a son, a father, a husband, a brother…and also a follower of Christ. I do not know him but I consider him a brother-in-Christ.

Much like us…and unlike us.

Kenneth is very much like us and in another way, he is completely unlike us. He is like us in that we all seek to honor Christ with our lives. We seek to pursue our calling and convictions. We seek to live out our faith – whether that be in and through our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and in our larger cities. But sometimes, God’s calling and convictions lead people to faraway places. We know this to be true because God calls us in Scriptures to Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth. [Acts 1:8]

And in this way, he’s very unlike us…because his calling and convictions have led him to a very distant, mysterious, and isolated place called North Korea.

Many of us understand the callings to Jerusalem and Judea but …Samaria? The ends of the earth?

Kenneth developed a deep passion and heart for North Korea. And as it has already been documented through various news sources, Kenneth was a “tentmaker” – working as a tour guide but with a missionary heart to share the love of Christ.  He did much of this in China and in North Korea. He did this with prayer and support. He did this with the support of a mission organization. But on his last trip hosting a tourist group to North Korea in November 2012 – a trip that he’s led at least 15 times with no problems whatsoever – Kenneth was detained on November 3.

Was he a spy? Was he openly preaching on the major street corners of Pyongyang? Was he being reckless?

No. No. No.

While we can speculate about the political nature or agenda that North Korea may have to use him as a “pawn,” Kenneth was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor because he was charged for committing “hostile acts to bring down the government” and “planning anti-North Korea religious activities.”

He was charged – in essence – for being a Christian. He was charged for taking his faith in Christ to heart. He was found guilty of wanting to share God’s love with those in North Korea. He was charged for being faithful to the convictions that God had placed upon his heart.

He was charged – officially – for wanting to bring down the government because like other missionaries or tentmakers, he spoke and preached at some of his sponsoring churches in the United States and prayed for a future day when the walls of North Korea would come down so that the Gospel may flourish. He said these things and they were recorded on videos and published onto respective church websites…and they were likely used by North Korea and their case against him.

And while one can argue if the US government is doing enough to pursue his freedom or if they are even obligated to do anything at all…one thing is clear to me:

The Church cannot forget our own.

The Church cannot forget Kenneth Bae. We cannot forget the Kenneths, the Yousef Nadarkhani’s, the Pastor Saeed Abedini’s, and the thousands of other Christians around the world that are persecuted for their faith in Christ. They are our brother and sisters. While governments, media, and the citizens of their countries may forget them and even mock and criticize them…the Church must not forget.

We must fight for them.
We must advocate for them.
We must pray for them.
We must work and pray boldly for their release.

And so I ask you to join me in praying for those that you may know that are serving to pursue their calling and convictions in Christ around the world – especially in countries and regions that are not hospitable to Jesus followers. I ask you to remember Kenneth Bae in your prayers:

Kenneth – a US citizen – is currently detained in North Korea – for his faith in Christ. He has been detained since November and thus, for over 9 months – the longest period any American citizen has ever been detained in North Korea. Pray for Kenneth and for his wife, children, parents, and friends. His health has deteriorated during his lengthy imprisonment due to chronic medical conditions including diabetes, enlarged heart and severe back pain. He is also experiencing vision loss due to complications of diabetes.

While I’ve never met Kenneth, I do have a very deep personal connection to this story. Kenneth’s sister, Terri, and her family attend my church. I have met his parents on numerous occasions. I have prayed with them. I have cried with them. I have sought to give them counsel during these turbulent times. Words cannot describe what they have endured through this ordeal. But rather than me just sharing, I’d like for you to…

Read Terri’s op-ed in the Seattle Times:

I WILL never forget the sound of anguish my mother made as we watched the recently released video footage of the American citizen — my brother, Kenneth Bae — in a North Korean labor camp. Our family had been devastated by my brother’s 15-year sentence of hard labor, but nothing could have prepared us for this.

My mother drew in a sharp breath and broke into heaving sobs, gasping for breath, at the sight of her son so diminished. We could see the heavy toll his long imprisonment, since November, had taken. Kenneth talked about his deteriorating health due to diabetes, enlarged heart and back pain, and pleaded with the U.S. government to help him.

It wasn’t just that he had lost so much weight and that his health was suffering, but that he seemed so broken. He choked up as he said, “I am my father’s only son,” pained that he could not be here to celebrate our father’s 70th birthday with my parents, who live in Lynnwood…

My brother is an optimist by nature, a hardworking husband and father, and a man of faith. Several years ago, he saw an opportunity that combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his personal convictions as a Christian. He believed in showing compassion by contributing to the North Korean economy in the form of tourism. He started his own tour company in China.

Introducing the untainted beauty of the land and the people of North Korea to the outside world was his livelihood and passion. In the past two years, he led more than 15 tours into the special economic zone of Rason, and that is what he was doing when he was arrested. [read full article]

What can you do?

1. PRAY.

I know that this seems so “small” but don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Please pray for Kenneth and his faith, his health, and for his family – including his wife, children, parents, sister, and friends. Pray for the leader of the respective countries and for the possibility of dialogue, deeper understanding, and even the possibility of peace. Pray for the government and people of North Korea. They are more than the axis of evil. They are people that are loved by God.

Perhaps your family, or small group, or church can take a few minutes in an upcoming gathering or Sunday service to pray for Kenneth Bae, his situation, and his freedom

Quest is hosting a prayer vigil for Kenneth Bae – with his sister and parents – this Saturday, August 10, at 7pm. If you are in the Seattle area, please join us.

2.  SIGN this Petition.

Jonathan  (Kenneth’s son), started a petition asking for people in the United States and around the world to show their support and ask the government to work harder for his freedom. Sign this petition and use your network to share it with others.

3. SPREAD THE WORD.

Please don’t let the Church forget the Kenneth Bae’s in the world. Don’t forget the Yousefs and Saeeds. Share this post. Activate your social networks.

4. LEAVE A COMMENT WITH A PRAYER OR ENCOURAGEMENT TO KENNETH’S FAMILY – for his children, wife, sister, and parents. Let them know that they are not alone. 

photo: Kenneth several months after he began his sentence in labor camp.

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UPDATE [9/11] // Kenneth’s mother, Myunghee Bae, visits North Korea to visit her son. It’s irrational and crazy but sometimes, the love of a parent even sends us to North Korea.

UPDATE [8/30] // Statement by Kenneth Bae’s family in response to the breaking news today that North Korea has rescinded its invitation to a US envoy that was seeking Kenneth’s release.

Our family is disappointed by the news that the special envoy is unable to go to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to bring Kenneth home at this time. We hold on to faith that DPRK and US diplomats will resume talks soon, ultimately leading to my brother being released.

It has been 301 days since Kenneth has been detained. With every day, we continue to pray. We appreciate the work that the State Department and the Obama administration have been doing and have pledged to do for Kenneth’s release. We miss Kenneth and remain concerned about his health.

We are not giving up hope for a peaceful and timely resolution.

Terri Chung
Sister of Kenneth Bae

We continue to pray for Kenneth. We pray for his health and release. We pray for his wife, children, parents, sister, and larger family. We continue to pray for the people of North Korea.

UPDATE [8/29] // Received this memo from Kenneth’s sister, Terri, just earlier today:

“Today marks 300 days since my brother Kenneth has been detained in North Korea. We are encouraged by the news of the US envoy traveling to NK to seek Kenneth’s release but also nervous about the uncertainty and sensitivity of the situation. We are holding our breaths and hoping and praying for his homecoming. Will you please pray with us?”

UPDATE [8/10] // We hosted a prayer vigil for Kenneth with his sister, mother, father, and extended family at Quest Church. Kenneth’s family was deeply encouraged by the amazing turnout of friends and strangers alike who came to pray for Kenneth.

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Terri [pictured above] shared the most updated news they received yesterday from the Swedish ambassador as they have a formal relationship with North Korea. They shared that because of Kenneth’s ailing health, he was transferred to a hospital. In addition to losing over 50 pounds, Kenneth had been suffering from issues of diabetes, heart problems, etc. Please continue to lift him in prayer. [photo credit: Thanh Tan, Seattle Times]

 

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43 Responses

  1. dianeemiller says:

    Praying with heartfelt compassion for this brother… for mercy & a way to freedom… I believe our God for a miracle!

    • Deona Flores says:

      May each of you be comforted by the presence of the Christ…”fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isa 41:10

      I am praying for Kenneth as well.

      In Christ, Deona

  2. Kristi says:

    This has moved my heart. I will pray fervently for Kenneth and his family.

  3. praying for Kenneth and all requested above. Thanks for sharing his story.

  4. Deb says:

    Prayed for him this morning…

  5. Randy says:

    Thanks for sharing his story! Pray for freedom and justice…

  6. Charles says:

    Lord, bless your special child Kenneth exactly as you know he needs. Even in the midst of suffering, let him stand in the center of the rain of your grace. Strengthen his family, friends, the circle of those who love him. Help each to hang in there. Thanking you in advance. Amen.

  7. Candace says:

    I am andv will continue to pray foe Ken. I know because of the Word of God that He is in control & He hears our prayers. I am going to try to print this out and will put this on our churchs prayer list so know we will be praying. Never forget, Jesus loves you ♡♥♡

  8. Sue Smith says:

    Lord, I know you are with Brother Kenneth. Please Spirit help him feel your presence – fill him with Your Peace. Let him minister to other prisoners there. Lord please bring more to You in that very dark place. Please protect your son, and his family. Thank you Jesus.

  9. suziebae says:

    Kenneth’s family:
    May God be with you during these times- He is loving and gracious in ALL circumstances. The Lord will free Him, and will lead him to living waters that will satisfy his physical/spiritual thirsts. There is hope, there is justice, and there is mercy in our God’s name. Although times are dark and rough, our God is the light and path!! Please stay strong and know that EVERYONE around you is praying and keeping you in our thoughts.
    Isaiah 41:10

    ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

  10. Ashley Moss says:

    Praying and believing for a miracle for you in Dallas, TX! So grateful for your faith…God is so merciful and we are confident that justice will prevail!

  11. I am doing all 4 suggested steps and will continue praying for Kenneth and his family.

  12. Kristin says:

    I just signed it. Thank you for sharing. It’s tragic, and I hope that action is taken by the administration to secure his release!!

  13. Pam S. says:

    Gods peace and strength for Kenneth and his family.

  14. Devon says:

    for God is with you and mr kenneth and you all are in my prayer Gods will shall be done!

  15. Celeste says:

    I will absolutely sign the petition, and will be praying often for Kenneth and his family. May God give all of you the grace to rely on Him one day at a time, and to trust that He will provide all you need. His peace will rule your hearts and minds!

  16. Joseph Kim says:

    Thank you for this post.

    Brother Kenneth, we are praying for you from Osaka, Japan! You have been an inspiration to so many here. We pray the Lord will release you. Thank you for your faithfulness.

  17. Hannah says:

    I have just signed the petition and will be praying for your family and Kenneth. Elohim is sovereign!

  18. Misti Allen says:

    Praying that strength is given to Kenneth and his family and the voices are heard!

  19. Hector says:

    I’m praying.

  20. daisy says:

    i am praying for kenneth and his family

  21. John M. says:

    Glad that Quest hosted a vigil for Kenneth Bae. Thank you for your support of the family. I appreciated the KUOW story last night. http://www.kuow.org/post/kenneth-baes-family-dont-forget-american

  22. Jennifer M. Y says:

    Signed the petition and prayed for our brother in Christ.

  23. Joyce Stewart says:

    Please dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ…Please Know our hearts go out to you as you endure this persecution! We will pray for you and for Kenneth too and do all we can to spread the word to help set him free. This is a job too big for any of us but Possible With God. We share in your grief and sorrow and wait patiently with you for a better day tomorrow. May the God of all comfort strengthen you during this test and trial. I pray you can find peace in some kind of gratitude – even tho’ I don’t know what that is right now. And I pray that you can feel the love that all of our good intentions are pushing out from our hearts as much as we can. Please Holy Spirit take YOUR LOVE through us to THEM!!! And Thank You Jesus for being with Kenneth in his pain and misery and giving him everything he needs to endure this but JESUS MOST OF ALL WE PRAY you will set HIM FREE!!! for our JOY and YOUR GLORY we pray this in YOUR NAME JESUS. Amen.

  24. Grace Sandra says:

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Eugene to care for, sign & pray for. Appreciate you, brother!

  25. JS says:

    Praying for you, Kenneth and your family. Hope see you soon!

  26. enscriptchun says:

    Brother Kenneth & the whole Bae family,

    You are in my prayers. May God grant you peace, and also deliverance!

  27. Maggie says:

    Sending prayers for Kenneth, family and friends, that God will move in this situation and free him. Praying for faith and strength for all.

  28. Tony says:

    How about a Special Amnesty for him and all political prisoners this Thursday – Liberation Day!

  29. My grand-uncle John David Hayes was also on trial in China, 1955. A missionary charged with being a spy. Here is the readers digest teleplay with Vincent Price playing my Grand-Uncle on trial. I am praying with you and for Kenneth.

    http://youtu.be/iHPH8CFyKCM

    I hope and pray my grand uncle’s life and love for Jesus Christ can be an inspiration and strength for you and everyday and for Kenneth. I am praying and praying and praying. My heart hurts for him and you. And yet, all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord. John Hayes

  30. Darcy Miller says:

    The unlimited power of believers uniting will join with Kenneth’s obedience and sacrifice to bring Glory to God in powerful ways. Praying heartily and helping spread the word – as God knows and will use Kenneth even in this situation. Speaking release and reuion for Kenneth as God brings him home from this assignment and allows him rest and preparation for even greater things……in Ohio….we are with you.

  31. ramtitan60 says:

    We have an opportunity to keep him held up in prayer – don’t allow this to be a one shot deal.

  32. mona rose lujano says:

    i am praying for you and your family, you have not been forgotten

  33. […] “The Church Must Not Forget Our Own” – If you don’t know who Kenneth Bae is, read […]

  34. Owen Pomana says:

    My name is Owen Pomana an Evangelist from New Zealand, I have just recently been into the DPRK, is there any email adress to contact any of the family members of Kenneth Bae to give them a report of what took place whilst I was there, 11/8/2013 – 18/82013. My email is owen1971pomana@gmail.com

  35. Irene says:

    Praying in Virginia for our brother in Christ and his family. May he come home safely and soon!

  36. […] the story of a man named Kenneth Bae. He is currently detained in North Korea. As I wrote in an earlier post, here’s a recap of his […]

  37. […] Kenneth is a tour operator and in the past has served as a Christian missionary. As I wrote in an earlier post, here’s a recap of his […]

  38. Sergio Munoz says:

    What church does he attend ???

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